ACADEMIC DISHONESTY – WHAT FACULTY MEMBERS SHOULD KNOW
Several years ago, the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators (NASPA), through its board of directors, commissioned the development of a document that would speak to the issue of academic integrity on campus. The following summarizes this work and also briefly describes the procedures currently in use at Oregon State University.
How is academic dishonesty defined? Academic dishonesty can be defined as an intentional act of deception in which a student seeks to claim credit for the work or effort of another person or uses unauthorized materials or fabricated information in any academic work.
Who maintains academic standards? All members of an academic community have the responsibility; however, faculty members play the most important role. Faculty members have multiple opportunities to inform students how academic dishonesty is defined, teach students ways to avoid unintentional infractions, identify and confront violators, and serve as models of academic integrity. Prevention is the key. Faculty members and students come from a variety of backgrounds and cultures, giving rise to different expectations of moral and ethical behavior. Well defined and effectively communicated standards in the classroom and in course materials reduce uncertainty and clarify expectations.
What is the policy at OSU? Academic dishonesty in assignments, examinations, or other academic performance is prohibited and considered a violation of the Student Conduct Regulations. It includes "cheating" (the intentional use or attempted use of unauthorized materials, information, or study aids); "fabrication" (the intentional falsification or invention of any information); "assisting in dishonesty or tampering" (intentionally or knowingly helping or attempting to help another commit an act of dishonesty or tampering with evaluation instruments and documents); and "plagiarism" (intentionally or knowingly representing the words or ideas of another person as one’s own).
How are OSU students advised of expectations? Students are advised of University expectations and procedures through the "Academic Regulations" and "Student Life Policy and Regulations" sections of the Schedule of Classes. In addition, through the student orientation program and general advising, students are encouraged to seek honest evaluations, develop sound study habits, maintain integrity in their work, and get study skill assistance when needed. However, faculty should make clear, at the beginning of every course, what would constitute academically dishonest work and the penalties that would result.
What action can faculty take? The administration of the classroom rests with the instructor. Instructional strategies and methods designed to discourage and prevent dishonesty are of utmost importance. However, when evidence of academic dishonesty comes to the instructor’s attention, the instruction should a) document the incident, b) permit the accused student to provide an explanation, c) advise the student of possible penalties, and d) take action (Academic Regulation 15 – "Honesty in Academic Work").
To report the academic dishonesty, faculty must use the academic dishonesty report form that is located on the Student Conduct and Community Standards website.
Note there are two different report forms – one is for undergraduate students and the other is for graduate students.
The instructor may impose any academic penalty up to and including an "F" grade in the course after consulting with his or her department chair and informing the student of the action taken. Using the standard reporting form (available from any academic dean), the instructor must report the incident and the action taken to his or her department chair who, in turn, shall forward the report to his or her dean. If the student is not enrolled in the college or school in which the course is offered, the dean of that college shall forward the report to the dean of the college or school in which the student is enrolled for possible further action (removal from major/school, conduct probation, conduct suspension, etc.).
Grade penalties imposed as a result of academic dishonesty may be appealed by the student in accordance with procedures developed by the department and college or school in which the course is offered.
What can faculty do to prevent academic dishonesty? A number of authors and faculty committees, both here and at other universities, have suggested a variety of pedagogical strategies to help faculty members adopt teaching practices which make acts of academic dishonesty more difficult. Among these suggestions:
- Use the first session of each course to review University standards, focus on definitions of academic dishonesty, and clarify instructional expectations – make it clear academic dishonesty will not be tolerated.
- Include in the course syllabus a statement alerting students to expectations and refer them to additional information on academic dishonesty in the Schedule of Classes.
- Use a variety of evaluation tools to assess student performance – using only one examination or paper puts excessive pressure on students to perform and can breed academic dishonesty.
- Avoid routine procedures such as using the same test each term or year and avoid using the same order for all questions on all copies of an examination.
- Prohibit students from bringing miscellaneous materials to testing sessions – this includes scratch paper, dictionaries, and even hats.
- Avoid "take home" examinations or out of class evaluation procedures unless student collaboration is desired.
- Give different versions of exams to different class sections and avoid giving the same "make–;up" exam.
- Discuss with departmental secretaries the need for office security and keep examinations, grade books, etc., in a secure location.
- Give essay tests instead of multiple choice tests when appropriate and when size of class permits.
- Number exam copies and count the total distributed and returned and provide "official" examination booklets, answer sheets, and scratch paper, etc.
- Require students to write their names in ink on examination booklets and require proper identification when examinations are turned in.
- Provide assigned seating in examinations so seat locations can be determined and prearranged groups of students prevented from sitting near each other.
- Arrange to have examination sessions carefully and diligently proctored.
- Advise students that a significant number of completed examinations are photocopied before being returned – this discourages altering examinations for regrading.
- Through the academic dean’s office, advise student councils or other student governance groups of the number of academic dishonesty cases and their outcome in order to achieve a deterrent effect.